The specific promotions described in this article have now passed, but it remains online so that the resources named will be of future use to travelers.
Some people want to leave the world behind them when they head out into the world for a vacation break. Others feel the need to be connected all the time, or might need a phone for business or personal emergency purposes. When heading to the far corners of the Earth, or taking a trip to Paris, Tokyo, Morocco, Australia or anywhere else for that matter, several cell-phone rental resources are available for the global traveler looking to stay in touch.
TravelCell (tel. 877/235-5766; www.travelcell.com) rents phones that are operational in most countries all over the world. If you're traveling to just one country, TravelCell offers weekly rates to that destination as well as cell phones that work through a global satellite network in any country you visit. Why rent from TravelCell? For one, using a TravelCell phone is 70-percent cheaper than using your hotel phone. Two, if your local cell phone does work overseas, costs can accumulate to 200 times that if renting a TravelCell phone in your destination country.
TravelCell rates vary by country. If you're going on a chocolate and classical music tour of Austria, for example, cell phone rental fees start at $29.95 for weekly rental rates with a $4.50 per extra-day fee. Incoming calls cost 49¢ per minute with outgoing local calls costing $1.29 per minute and outgoing calls to the United States and Canada. Normal cell phone features such as call forwarding, three-way calling, caller ID, call waiting, text messaging and voice mail are included as features of the phone.
If you're traveling to France, weekly rental fees are similar but incoming calls are free with outgoing local calls costing 89¢. Incoming calls in the United Kingdom with outgoing calls going for 59¢ for local calls, 79¢ for the rest of Europe and 69¢ for to North America. A fee of 59¢ will be applied for calls to your voice mail in the United Kingdom.
Outside of Europe, say if you're in Brazil for Carnival and you want your friends to hear the revelry live via phone, weekly rental rates start at $29.99 with extra days costing $4.50. Incoming calls in Brazil 49¢ with outgoing calls to the United States costing $1.79 and local calls costing $1.39. With TravelCell, just pick a country and see a cost. Shipping costs come to $7.50 for the phone each way and you can choose a 99¢ daily phone insurance charge should you drop your phone in the Amazon, Nile or down into a Turkish sewer.
If your destination country doesn't provide cell phone service, TravelCell rents satellite phones that offer free incoming calls. Weekly rental fees for these phones that work anywhere in the world (James Bond has one of these) start at $149.99 for the first week and then $49.99 for subsequent weeks (until the 30 day mark when the $149.99 cost applies again for long rentals). Outgoing calls to regular phones cost $2.49 per minute. If you're calling another global satellite phone, however, calls cost $13.50 per minute, meaning calls to other super spies can get costly.
Global Cellular Rental (tel. 800/931-9773; www.globalcellularrental.com) also rents cell phones to travelers. Rates differ slightly in some cases and heavily in others. Weekly rental fees to Austria, for example, start at $59 with a $1.99 per minute calling cost for local, European and North American calls. You can choose from a United States or European phone number. European numbers usually mean free incoming calls, so if you choose this option in Austria, you will save some money. An overnight rush shipping fee is available for $29. Phone insurance costs $1.99 per day with Global Cellular. In certain countries where TravelCell only offers coverage with a satellite phone, such as Belize, you might be better off renting from Global Cellular where normal rental fees apply. By normal, we mean $59 per weekly rental and $1.45 for local calls and $2.99 per minute for international calls. This still beats your global telecom rates when calling from your hotel or hotel lobby. While Global Cellular can make overnight phone rental arrangements, it's best to reserve a minimum of three to six days in advance; the earlier, the better.
Roadpost (tel. 888/290-1616; www.roadpost.com) is another company providing cell phone rental on a global level. With Roadpost, however, you can purchase a cell phone for use internationally, something that can be very cost effective is you travel to that country on a regular basis. If you travel often to the United Kingdom, purchasing a cell phone from Roadpost includes a UK Sim Card, your choice of phone, an international charger with adapters, and a user guide. For the U.K. basic plan, rates start at $9 per month with a $30 activation fee on a one-year contract. Delivery and shipping is free. You pay 89¢ per minute for all local and long-distance calls within the network. International calls are charged within "zones" where costs range from $1.99 in France or Western Europe and go to $6.99 per minute for calls to Nigeria, the Sierra Leone, or Laos. See the site for details on zone charges. Renting a phone in the U.K. through Roadpost comes to $59 per week with a $1.79 per minute call charge and a $20 shipping charge. You can do the math, but in this case buying will beat renting.